Sato wins 104th Indianapolis 500

Third on the grid, Takuma Sato edged out Scott Dixon, to give RLL Racing a prestigious success, the Japanese’s previous success having been signed with Andretti Autosport. The team of Bobby Rahal and David Letterman is all the more fulfilled as Graham Rahal is on the third step of the podium.

In a race long dominated by Scott Dixon, the ex-F1 driver began to look like a strong contender for victory in the final quarter of the 104th running of the American classic. On lap 158, he thus took the lead on a regular basis, taking over the five-time champion of the series, who continues to see the Brickyard resist him since his only success in 2008, but who substantially increases his lead in the general.

Dixon had however regained the upper hand over Sato at the end of his last refueling, on lap 170, but the Japanese’s top speed was greater. Three laps later, the RLL driver thus definitely took the lead, and saw his success secured when the RLL Racing freelancer, Spencer Pigot, caused a final neutralization on the 195th lap, after a violent spin at the level of the pit lane entrance. The Nippon could breathe, while he was then battling in the traffic against the stragglers, and Dixon was still threatening.

Before Sato, the New Zealander had mainly fought with Alexander Rossi. On the 102nd lap, the winner of the 2016 edition had even taken the lead, the start of an intense mano to mano between the two men who kept snatching the lead from the race.

This seemed to prefigure the finish of the race, but Rossi saw his efforts reduced to nothing following a poorly negotiated pit-stop, where he touched without damaging Takuma Sato’s single-seater while coming out of his pitbox. Penalized, the American from Andretti Autosport had to start at the back of the field on the 129th lap. He would finally end his race in the wall (144th lap).

Party 25th, Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) held the lead of the race for a time (32nd on the 45th lap), thanks to an offbeat strategy, but he was never able to get back into the sequence of the leading drivers. Victim of contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay (132nd lap), the Poitevin was forced to return to the pits to change a damaged wing, and had to settle for 22nd place.

Author of an anonymous race, Fernando Alonso (McLaren SP) finished a small place ahead of the French defending champion.

Find in the number 2275 of AUTOHebdo, available Monday evening in digital and Wednesday in newsstands, the analysis of the Indy 500 2020.

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